Washington Nationals on the brink of mathematical elimination

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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 20: Manager Dave Martinez #4 of the Washington Nationals holds back Bryce Harper #34 from umpire D.J. Rayburn after getting thrown out in the 12th inning during a baseball game against the New York Mets at Nationals Park on September 20, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 20: Manager Dave Martinez #4 of the Washington Nationals holds back Bryce Harper #34 from umpire D.J. Rayburn after getting thrown out in the 12th inning during a baseball game against the New York Mets at Nationals Park on September 20, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /
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The Washington Nationals dropped their series opener with the New York Mets on Thursday night in the 12th inning, and are close to elimination.

It was a long Thursday night for the Washington Nationals as they lost 5-4 to the New York Mets in 12 innings. Now, it leaves them on the brink of mathematical elimination heading into the weekend.

The defeat, coupled with the Atlanta Braves pulling out a victory over the Philadelphia Phillies, leaves the elimination number in the division at two. In the NL Wild Card race, their elimination number is three, with the St. Louis Cardinals the team they’re chasing there.

So in theory, they could be eliminated from the NL East on Friday night and the Wild Card shortly after on Saturday. While this has been coming for quite some time now, the final nail in the coffin will be mathematical doom.

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For a team that was largely expected to once again coast in the division with all the talent, it will be a solemn moment. It’s fair to wonder whether there will be any shift in approach from management once the elimination is officially confirmed.

The team has generally kept the mentality that they’re still alive, but would they utilize someone like Victor Robles even more once confirmed. For example, so far, he’s been sitting against left-handers, but when there’s literally nothing left to lose, he should be playing almost every game.

Scherzer approaching 300 Ks

Max Scherzer drew the start for the Nationals, and despite a rough third inning, he kept his sensational season going. It’s the time of the season when several landmarks and records are starting to fall for the ace.

He managed to set a career-high and his own Nationals team record in strikeouts when he notched his 285th, and he would then go on to add five more. That leaves him just five short of his first ever 300K season, and assuming he can get 10 whiffs in his last two starts, he’ll become the 40th pitcher to ever achieve the feat.

Despite the history, Scherzer now appears to be the underdog in the NL Cy Young race with Jacob deGrom still dealing at an unreal level. He’ll be hoping his team can put a significant dent on the latter’s stat line tomorrow when he takes the mound.

Tony Four Bags the offensive catalyst

The Nats offense was stifled early on by Mets starter Jason Vargas, but that all changed thanks to the bat of Anthony Rendon. The lefty, despite entering the night with a 6.47 ERA, had managed to twirl 11.1 scoreless innings against Davey Martinez’s men.

However, the third baseman jacked one to left field in the sixth to get his boys on the board, and cut the deficit to one. Then he continued to account for all his team’s offense when he got an RBI groundout to make it 4-3.

Rendon’s expiring contract after the 2019 season could be a storyline that looms large over the team this offseason. It will largely depend on the result of the Bryce Harper sweepstakes, and if he leaves, then the silent but deadly fan favorite becomes a high priority.

Next. Finding a Catcher for 2019. dark

The Washington Nationals will now be in last-ditch salvage mode on their season Friday. Opposing deGrom on Friday will be Joe Ross, who faces an uphill challenge in his second official start since coming off the DL.

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